If you are confused and puzzled by the recent scramble by the United States and the UN to bring peace to Lebanon, perhaps we can help a little bit with a short read of what we think this all means. In fact, you may be able to write your own resolution, which may make more sense and have more real wisdom than UN Security Council Resolution 1701, passed a week ago.
We are not going to point out all the ambiguities and potential potholes in the road to peace in southern Lebanon, because that has already been done in a very brilliant way by Professor Anthony D’Amato of the law school of Northwestern University (“The UN Mideast Ceasefire Resolution Paragraph-by-Paragraph”). UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will report to the Security Council this weekend. We suggest that you read Professor D’Amato’s analysis as preparation for Annan’s report.
There is a story going around Washington, DC, that three wise men approached the President a fortnight ago with a very strong message that he had to move to a ceasefire as quickly as possible. American interests were being undermined throughout the world. We know the names of two of the wise men: former president George H. W. Bush and his national security adviser General Brent Scowcroft. This may just be another Washington story but it has the ring of truth about it. President George W. Bush has just said that it may take some time before people realize in Lebanon that Hezbollah has suffered a defeat. He is probably the only world leader holding such an opinion today, including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert!
While it is true that Resolution 1701 in its final point calls for “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” this is nothing but diplomatic pablum. Everyone has wanted a comprehensive peace for more than half a century, but you do not reach it by simply passing UN resolutions that are ignored in their main thrust by both parties, Israel and her Arab neighbors.
The Arab League is calling for the abandonment of the “road map,” invented by the Quartet of western nations, and in September there will be a major meeting in New York at the United Nations that will undertake a new and comprehensive effort towards peace between Israel and her neighbors. Perhaps that is the best news to come out of the past six weeks of war and peace. It will be interesting to see the reaction in Tel Aviv and in Washington to this new Arab League initiative.
One of the more puzzling references in Resolution 1701 is referring back to the armistice of 1949 without specifying how that armistice, which was fairly well respected by Israel and Lebanon until the Israeli invasion of 1982, relates at all to the present situation. There are, of course, officers of the “Mixed Armistice Commission of Israel-Lebanon” who are still marking time in the old Mandatory Government House in Jerusalem. Are they to be reactivated, because they are the only ones under the armistice agreement who can operate on both sides of the border? Not very likely.
The reference in the resolution to the “Blue Line,” which is the line set after the withdrawal of Israel in June 2000, is also ambiguous. Will the border finally be demarcated in a way that is agreeable to both parties, as called for in the resolution? Again, not very likely. Then there is the issue of the Shebaa Farms, which the Lebanese government insisted on keeping in the resolution. There is no mention of consulting Syria, but there is a clear reference to her claim or lack of claim to Shebaa Farms, since the resolution calls for Kofi Annan to present to the Security Council a proposal within 30 days for “dealing” with the issue after consulting with “relevant international actors and the concerned parties.” However, there is a report that the U.S. had to reassure Israel that it would use its veto in the Security Council if an unsatisfactory resolution of the Shebaa Farms issue was proposed. It is our opinion that until there is final peace, Israel will never give up Shebaa Farms, which makes it a cause for further violence in the area.
Official figures claim that 1,300 Lebanese have so far been identified as killed in the conflict, but more are being found every day, and 43 Israeli civilians were killed. A total of 117 Israeli soldiers were killed. Hezbollah claims it only lost 85, but Israel has circulated the names of 180 killed and estimates the total Hezbollah casualties at over 500. Two Israeli-Americans were killed, one a soldier in the IDF, but it is still too early to tell how many Lebanese-Americans were killed in the bombings. Including the population of both Israel and Lebanon, this would be comparable to losing 43,000 American civilians and troops in five weeks.
Finally, the provisions regarding cutting off munitions supplies to anyone but the Lebanese government are probably unworkable in view of the large number of Hezbollah-oriented recruits in the Lebanese army and reportedly a number of senior officers who may be members or sympathizers with Hezbollah. But then, in Lebanon today, the majority clearly is sympathetic with Hezbollah and its rebuilding effort.
We suggest that everyone read the D’Amato analysis and draft your own resolution to send to George W. Bush.
The Council for the National Interest is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots organization founded seventeen years ago by former Congressmen Paul Findley (R-IL) and Pete McCloskey (R-CA) to advocate a new direction for U.S. Middle East policy. CNI seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of a foreign country, namely Israel.